What to do when they close court or meeting
When you are in court or trying to gain access to a court proceeding, and the courtroom has been closed or a party moves to exclude the public or press from the courtroom, stand and address the judge by respectfully stating:
“Judge, I am (name), a reporter with (newspaper). On behalf of my newspaper I would like to object to the closing of this proceeding and have the opportunity for my newspaper’s attorney to appear to argue the issue. My position is supported by the decision of the S.C. Supreme Court in Ex parte: Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., 369 S.C. 69, 631 S.E.2d 86 (2006).”
When in a public meeting and the body attempts to enter executive session without stating the specific purpose of the session, stand and address the chair by stating:
“I am (name), a reporter with (newspaper). The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act requires that the specific purpose of the session be stated. Please be more specific of the matter to be discussed that is broadly identified in S.C. Code Section 30-4-70(a)(1)-(6). My position is supported by the decision of the S.C. Supreme Court in Donohue v. City of North Augusta, 412 S.C. 526, 773 S.E.2d 140 (2015).” Note: “Personnel matters” and “contractual matters” do not qualify as statements of specific purpose.
Run into issues? Call the FOI Hotline at (803) 750-9561.